#5 Middlebury Ties #15 Amherst, Advances on PKs

Olivia Miller tallied for Middlebury in the second half on Saturday.
Olivia Miller tallied for Middlebury in the second half on Saturday.

The Middlebury women's soccer team advanced to the NESCAC Championship game for the first time since 2013, as the second-seeded Panthers tied third-seeded Amherst 1-1, but advanced on penalty kicks (4-3) in Saturday's semifinal played at Williams. Middlebury (14-1-2) faces the host and top-seeded Ephs Sunday at 3:00 p.m. with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Williams won the opening game of the day, 3-2, over Tufts.

The Panthers had a chance to open the scoring with the game's initial shot on goal, but Sabrina Glaser's bid from the top of the penalty area was corralled by Antonia Tammaro with 12:13 expired. Midway through the frame, the Mammoths had a quality opportunity when Maeve McNamara sent a cross into the Middlebury penalty area from deep in the right corner, but Alexa Juarez's redirection went just wide of the near post.

Amherst (13-2-2) took a 1-0 lead with 11:16 before the half, as Rubii Tamen, the conference's leading scorer, settled the ball, turned and fired a high shot from 22 yards out that went in just under the cross bar.

In the second stanza, a majority of the action came in the midfield, before the Panthers broke through with the equalizer with 28:40 on the clock. Olivia Miller tied the score when she launched a long shot from 32 yards that curled into the upper-right corner of the net for her second tally of the season.

Each team had a chance in the final stages of regulation, with Middlebury's Ellie Greenberg chipping a shot past a charging Tammaro wide of the left post with just over a minute left. Amherst's Carleigh Plaut misfired high on a bid with nine seconds left after Panther keeper Ursula Alwang pushed out an entry into the penalty area.

In the first extra 10-minute session, Tamen had the best scoring bid with 3:33 off the clock. She laced a shot from the left side, forcing Alwang to leap into the air and punch the attempt over the crossbar.

Amherst recorded both shots on goal in the second overtime, but Alwang stopped each attempt, as the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

After each team missed in the first round, the Mammoths grabbed a 2-0 edge in penalty kicks before Magnolia Moskun and Amanda Dafonte scored on consecutive attempts. Two diving saves by Panther goalie Eva Shaw, who entered the game for the penalty kicks, sent the game into a winner-take-all round. Both teams scored on their sixth attempt and Sara DiCenso gave Middlebury a 4-3 lead in the seventh round. The Panthers advanced to the final when Shaw forced Sophia Fikke's shot wide of the right post.

In goal for the Panthers, Alwang finished with six saves, while Tammar had four stops for the Mammoths.

Amherst held a slight 15-13 advantage in shots and each team had three corner kicks.